By Sara Ross
A mentor understands what it means to guide, teach, and serve as a role model for another person and to help him, or her, thrive and achieve success. This year, tecBRIDGE is proud to announce that Gerry O’Donnell is the 2022 Bill McNally Mentor of the Year Award recipient.
Born and raised in Boston, Gerry grew up with modest means and was thankful to have a roof over his head and food on the table. He started working at the age of 13, where he had odd jobs of working delivery and grocery and also shoveling snow. At 15, he worked at Sears in the summers between high school, teaching him how to allocate time, set priorities, and communicate with adults.
“From a young age, I always knew what my responsibilities were, and I have had experience in multiple areas,” said Gerry, adding, “although, sometimes, it’s funny because I still feel that I am figuring out what I want to do when I grow up myself.”
Certainly, many students share this feeling when they start their professional journeys. Gerry recognizes that, like himself, they will face the challenge of climbing the corporate ladder and may need some guidance along the way. Today, Gerry acts as a local mentor; he wishes to set up the best opportunities for others.
Gerry became the first in his family to go to college at Boston State College, which is now the University of Massachusetts at Boston. After graduating, Gerry spent more than 40 years in executive management in the automotive industry.
He moved to this region in February of 1996 after a search firm recruiter contacted him to run operations at MotorWorld Automotive Group. Gerry really liked the area, believing that it was a great place to raise a family. It had cost-effective living and was in close proximity to major cities.
Gerry, who has become a valued member of the Wilkes-Barre and Scranton communities, currently resides in Shavertown with his wife, Barbara. He has long been associated with the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, as a chair of the board and an interim CEO.
Working to make the area a hub for businesses, the region’s universities, and nonprofits, Gerry networks with students as a board member for King’s College’s School of Business, Keystone College, Luzerne County Community College, and the Family Service Association.
Known for his support of aspiring young professionals, Gerry takes the initiative in reaching out to them, offering guidance, and recommending connections. He gets to know them, their areas of expertise, and their career interests. With Gerry’s advice, they have the opportunity to make connections and meet like-minded individuals who can give them the experience they are hoping to find.
“Even with the networking, it does fall on the student to follow through,” said Gerry, who added, “I always invest time in someone that I know will have positive outcomes and has a great personality to take the initiative.”
Among many, Gerry has connections with David Jolley who previously worked at Geisinger Hospital in public relations, Lindsay Griffin of the Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Shelby Monk of the Diamond City Partnership.
A lover of baseball and the Boston Red Sox, Gerry is just as passionate about his hobbies as he is about mentorship and his involvement in the local community. Volunteering with local non-profit organizations, Gerry has served with the St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen, the Children’s Service Center, the Board of the American Diabetes Association, the Osterhout Library, and other nonprofits.
Thank you, Gerry, for all your hard work and dedication, and congratulations on this achievement!